Unstructured Caster optimization

I don't have the books, but wouldn't Chthonic Magic require bloody ritual sacrifices and praise to someone like Hekate ?

To get the bonus, yes indeed it does. Having Chthonic magic doesn't make you evil. Using to its fullest potential does :smiling_imp:

Something tells me thats just not in my idiom.

True as well. On a more practical note, you do not need to do something as cumbersome as performing bloody ritual sacrifices. Something as simple as cursing at the target, or invoking dark gods (hello Hekate :wink: ) would suffice.



I think you still misunderstand.

If you're going for Theurgy in a serious way, nearly every spell you will ever cast will be Invoke the Spirit of Something or Other. MMF Spirits applies to all such spells.

MMF Damage does so much less.

If you're going to be a traditional spont specialist, you're not likely to go for Theurgy in a serious way.

I don't find it ambiguous, but YMMV.

This disagreement has gone around a few times between you and various people, and I don't think you get it:

Build yourself a magus who is two years out of apprenticeship. Give him Diedne Magic and spend ten other virtue points however you like. Don't give him Charms because we're looking at Diedne Magic and sponts.

Build yourself a magus who is two years out of apprenticeship. Give him LLSM and spend ten other virtue points, honestly trying to optimize this guy. Again, no Charms.

Who is going to spont better?

I know that you looooove Diedne, but really create the magi. See what they do.

I stand by what I said above. Build this guy with 6-9 Arts two years out of apprenticeship as a Diedne. Then build him with LLSM.

Mr Diedne cannot boost any spont that involve 6-9 of his Arts (zero doubled is zero). LLSM guy can add a few magnitudes to anything. He's the ultimate generalist. The Diedne can spont only in a narrower Arts set, and--let me see if I have this right--"a spont speciality necessary calls for a somewhat generalist approach to Art." LLSM does this, even with a specialist's Arts scores and the many benefits that brings.

I think this is the heart of it. You love your Diedne. The Dark Secret part of the Virtue gets no play in your sagas. Ok. The Infernal part of Cthonic Magic, I'd guess means "misunderstood by nasty dogmatic church types." Ok. So your character gets to double the lowest Art score all the time, with no risk at all. Your saga, roll how you want. But please understand that I devalue the relevance of 'your experience' because it applies to a specific set of House Rules rather than the general case. It's great that these House Rules work well for you though, and that your troupe enjoys them.

Ok.... LLSM trounces Diedne even ten years past Gauntlet. Build the magi, and give the LLSM guy the same love you give the Diedne.

That's 23vp, and for that he had better be powerful. :slight_smile: Especially since he's hated by Houses Tremere, Tytalus, Guernicus, Bjornaer, Mercere, Flambeau... the Church, anyone associated with the Divine....



I'm guessing you mean:

Charmed Life, Major Heroic Virtue (HoH:TL, page 104)

"Fortune smiles upon you, often protecting you from the random consequences of adventure. You have the Luck virtue, and whenever you roll a 0 on a stress die in dangerous or deadly circumstances, you may spend a Confidence point to reroll it rather than checking for a botch. This should be applied in chaotic circumstances, not calculated efforts, since luck must play a factor to make use of this virtue — for example, charging into a rain of arrows or diving off a sheer cliff are appropriate actions, but not forging a letter or following a set of tracks."

Believe it or not, I know the answer because I was just yesterday browsing the old PdP campaign Unknown Cargo (En Route to Visby, near the bottom of page 1) - where Ovarwa's character used it!



smile That's the one!

I don't raise Iohannes as an examplar of optimized sponts for this discussion because he is house ruled.



Ah, Ok now I see your point. I think we may agree on this. My comment indeed was from the perspective of a traditional spont specialist, which if anything could use the NoP & Invocation part of theurgy as an extra oomph, hence not going for theurgy in a serious way.


Please avoid giving yourself a free phantom cheer in a discussion this way. I do not notice these "various people".

Since I do not deem such pitiful novices interesting and appealing character concepts, I do not bother consider the comparison.

Who says having those Virtues has not its drawbacks ? Even if my group and I do not buy the line that everybody and his dog in the Order still has a paranoid murderous urge vs. the Diedne, and restrict the active Diedne vendetta interest to the Tremere, as implied by HoH:TL, that still means having recurrent problems with one entire House. Likewise, having Chthonic magic means having recurrent problems with character aligned with the Divine and the Church. Fanatical Tremere and "nasty dogmatic Church types" are still an occasional bother that needs to put down, and as a matter of fact, my mage had recurrent occasional problems with both (lucky for me, Tremere and NDCT are kinds of enemies I definitely like wasting). I get you missed the bit where I said that use of Forsaken is dangerous, because it leaves permanent Infernal taint oozing around, which shall be eventually noticed ? Speaking from experience.

Limiting the active anti-Diedne witchhunting paranoia about spont specialists to the Tremere is no House Rule, but derived from HoH:TL, and neither is the fact that in order to notice Infernal taint, you need a character with the right Divine powers, or casting the right Intellego spells on an active Chthonic-enhanced spell. Both kinds of drawbacks do happen, but only occasionally, as it is right to do for Dark Secrets and other Story Flaws. They are not an excuse for the SG to throw truckloads of enemies at the character, all the time.

Besides, have you noticed Cailleach Magic, from HMR ? Same thing as Diedne Magic, only substitutes Dark Secret with Hedge Wizard, as the inborn Flaw.

Eventually, I might just get around to have my char Initiated in LLSM, and then I shall run all the test runs you want for it, as I did for the other virtues. For now, I'm just very satisfied with the current character build, and not going to change it, unless the saga collapses. However, I can freely concede this, about the issue. You have enough of a point that had I be given an option to make a retrospective revision of his V/F set, I'd seriously consider swapping MMF (Damage) with LLSM, just like surely I'd swap HT with either Enduring Constitution or Sorcerous Music.

I'm not saying LLSM is not very important and useful to a spont specialist. It's just that given the hefty fatigue bill and the significant risk of body injury involved, I cannot see as the main tool to enhance one's spont magic on a routine basis. IMO it is very nice to give that extra occasional boost when it's very necessary, but other virtues are necessary to enhance spont on a routine basis.

Acutally it was 21 vp, check your math. Anyway, there I was going for the most optimal build, not the point-sparing one. :wink:

If you want a more point-sparing one, I would say you may go Faerie Magi, Charm Magic, Spell Timing, Spell Foci, Diedne/Cailleach Magic, Chthonic Magic, LLSM. 13 vp. Quite affordable for a character 10-15 years of apprenticeship, the minimum power level I'd take seriously for a character. Even the slightly more ambitious build with MMF (Damage), too, at 16 vp, is not that unreasonable at that level. I would maybe substitute Spell Foci with Sorcerous Music, but I acknowledge that if one embraces your interpretation of Spell Foci, and the SG lets you have it free from Rustic Magi tradition's burden, it may be preferable to Sorcerous Music from a strict spont-specialist optimization PoV.

Rein in your enthusiasm. That build is only going to have problems with Tremere (Diedne heritage), Bjornaer (Shapeshifter), characters associated with the Divine who have SH & UH or similar powers (Chthonic magic), the occasional mage or supernatural creature that uses infernal-detection InVi spells or similar powers on Chthonic-enhanced spells. Still a significant enemy list, but not as outrageous as you make it. Moreover, IMO a spont specialist should only pick Shapeshifter (unless one is interestted in having for other reasons) only rather late in the ongoing character development. If anything, Enduring Constitution works better as a fatigue-stopgap Virtue for its price, and it carries no Bjornaer enimity.



I'm not saying I'm intrinsically right; I'm not saying that more people saying the same thing is better; I am saying that over the past few years I have noticed you in this discussion a few times.

That's probably the source of our disagreement.

When a magus' lowest Art is 20, Diedne Magic crushes LLSM. Absolutely. No argument from me. I'd go for Diedne Magic way before LLSM for my 100 year old canonical spont specialist. (Charms and Spell Foci first, because I hate botches. But if the concept allowed it, Diedne Magic and Cthonic Magic next, absolutely. LLSM comes late to that party. I still wouldn't bother with a focus in damage; I'd rather have 2 Affinities and Book Learner.)

But for the first 30 years past Gauntlet, LLSM is better. Right after Gauntlet, LLSM is much better.

This suggests that an optimized character begin with LLSM and initiate Diedne Magic rather than the opposite.

HMR? Cailleach Magic? Do tell!

Being a Bjornaer instead of a Shapeshifter allows a magus to initiate a virtue to grab his extra fatigue even in human form, and add even more fatigue to an inner heartbeast, up to a total of 5 fatigue levels more than an ordinary human! (5 extra FL for LLSM!!!!! For those of us at home, that's a safe level 40 spont starting from Arts scores of 0!!!!!!!! Yes, I think this deserves Kevin Siembieda punctuation.)



To get the focus-like effect, yes.

More important, it makes your magic clearly infernal, recognisable to all as such.

Never saw it phrased more rightly.


Thanks. :slight_smile:




Well.... you have to do something you know is wrong. Does that make you evil?

A Jewish magus, for example can get the benefit with every spell he casts, just by casting it, because Hermetic Magic is intrinsically sinful in his religion and he knows it. Does that make him evil or just another man who sins?



There is a level of severity to the sin. Eating a ham sandwich or simply casting spells will not trigger Chthonic Magic benefits. Sacrificing a vergin or invocing the name of Baal-Soggoth, that sort of sim is required. Mortal sin as opposed to Venial sin.


IYS, perhaps, but that's not at all RAW:

"This must be something that the caster knows to be wicked or evil (though not necessarily a mortal sin) and must be performed deliberately."

So "trivial" sins qualify if done knowingly.

BTW, knowingly eating a ham sandwich is a mortal sin in Judaism.



I dunno. I know a lot of Jewish people that eat ham. But then again they are modern Americans, not medevial folk.

But in anycase, if you are Jewish (achronisticlly reformed), and you don't believe that eating ham or casting spells is sinful, then that does not count as "knowingly" committing a sin. I play christian magi that are in denial about their sinful magic all the time :wink:

Still, good point. I was over generalizing. Must return to the source and investigate :smiley:

Just 'cause you make a bloody sacrafice to an old earth god from the Underworld doesn't mean you're evil. :unamused:

Yes it does :smiling_imp:


I'm one of them. :slight_smile:

grin And if it only takes a little sin to activate the best parts of Cthonic Magic, that works fine from an Infernal perspective. "Would you like a wafer thin sin?"



LOL, happens all the time. My friend Mitch, his parents make awesome ribs every 4th of July. My crazy uncle who invented his own religion tried to combine old testament law with Christianity. He used to criticize me constantly, and I told him that if my worst sin was eating a ham sandwhich while on break from work on Saturday, I think I will do just fine. He has given up on religion, but still refuses to eat pork.

And a side of fries! :laughing:


Well, the great thing about Cthonic Magic as written is that its user has to knowingly and deliberately do something wrong. Whether the act is wrong or not doesn't matter, except to the extent that it is wrong to do something that one believes to be wrong.

Your character doesn't think human sacrifice is wrong? Fine! No Art doubling. Your character knows that wearing clothes that are a little too nice is a sign of wrongful pride yet does it anyway? Double your Art, baby, courtesy of, um, um, of Razon, the patron angel/demon of willful sin.

It cuts nicely through the "I'm a good guy but I'm misunderstood" stuff. (Want some Cthonic Magic to go with your Diedne? You have to deliberately and knowingly do stuff you think is wrong.)